According to results presented at the plenary session of the 40th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the addition of the chemotherapy agent Temodar® (temozolomide) to radiation therapy improves long-term survival with minimal side effects as initial therapy for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme.
Glioblastoma multiforme is a type of cancer that originates in the brain. It is considered an extremely aggressive type of cancer, with dismal long-term survival rates. Initial treatment for glioblastoma multiforme often consists of surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible, followed by radiation therapy. Unfortunately, even if surgery has removed all detectable cancer, undetectable cancer cells may remain and are ultimately responsible for the death caused by this disease. Therefore, chemotherapy following surgery may kill cancer cells that are remaining in the body and improve outcomes.
Researchers recently conducted a multi-institutional clinical trial to evaluate the addition of the chemotherapy agent Temodar® (temozolomide) following surgery and radiation for patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme. Temodar® is already approved for the treatment of glioblastoma that has recurred following prior therapy. This trial included 573 patients from 85 different medical centers. All patients had their cancer removed, followed by radiation therapy. Approximately half of the patients were also treated with Temodar® during their radiation therapy and following radiation for up to 6 cycles. At an average of approximately 2 years, progression-free survival was 7.2 months for patients treated with Temodar®/radiation, compared with only 5.0 months for those treated with radiation alone. The average duration of survival was 14.6 months for those treated with Temodar®/radiation, compared with only 12.1 months for those treated with radiation alone. At 2 years, 26% of patients treated with Temodar®/radiation were alive, compared with only 10% of patients treated with radiation therapy alone. Treatment with Temodar® was very well tolerated, as well as convenient as Temodar® is an oral agent.
The researchers concluded that the addition of Temodar® to radiation therapy improves survival compared to radiation therapy alone as initial therapy for glioblastoma multiforme. Patients diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of treatment including Temodar®.
Reference: Stupp R, Mason W, Van Den Bent M, et al. Concomitant and adjuvant temozolomide (TMZ) and radiotherapy (RT) for newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Conclusive results of a randomized phase III trial by the EORTC Brain & RT Groups and NCIC Clinical Trials Group. Results presented at the plenary session at the 40th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. June 2004.